The CGIAR Initiative on Diversification in East and Southern Africa, also known as Ukama Ustawi is thrilled to announce the Launch of the Ukama Ustawi Scaling Fund – an event to which members of the press are invited to attend in person and/or virtually on 25 October 2023 from 12:00 to 13:00 (UTC+3) at the ILRI Campus in Nairobi, Kenya. The Scaling Fund, coordinated by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), focuses on supporting innovation scaling to transform agrifood systems in East and Southern Africa (ESA).
For its inaugural round in 2023, three awards of $125,000 will be granted to support the development of scaling strategies for innovations with significant impact in ESA, along with in-kind contributions from Ukama Ustawi’s scaling experts.
“The Regional Integrated Initiatives of CGIAR have a strong emphasis and responsibility to support innovation scaling in specific geographies. The challenge is how to make this happen and to support coordination with so many other initiatives across the region. The scaling fund is a tangible mechanism to foster this coordination across many centers and countries,” says Dr Inga Jacobs-Mata, Initiative Lead for Ukama Ustawi and IWMI’s Director of Water, Growth and Inclusion.
Answering the regional call to catalyze high-impact innovations
Ukama Ustawi aligns with the CGIAR 2030 Research and Innovation Strategy, with a focus on enhancing smallholder productivity, diversification, and risk mitigation in maize-based farming across 12 countries in East and Southern Africa (Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe). The initiative also places special emphasis on gender and social inclusion, along with advanced extension services, SME development, effective governance structures, and increased investments.
The Scaling Fund serves as a catalyst for high-impact innovations, allowing CGIAR and its partners to co-create, negotiate, and fund scaling strategies and action plans. This initiative will engage various stakeholders, including other active CGIAR initiatives and public and private sector entities in ESA.
Forty percent (40%) of innovations developed by CGIAR (188 out of 477) were developed in ESA, making this region a hotspot for innovation development. These range from the Climate Security Observatory (CSO) for livestock production systems; to actionable drought forecasts for the transboundary natural resource management authorities in Southern Africa using satellite-based climate information; to digital tools for delivering tailored fertilizer recommendations to potato farmers through the public-private partnership extension model in Rwanda; and Mechanization in Excellence in Agronomy Initiative: A community of practice working group meeting report.
Of those innovations developed in the ESA region, 1 million farmers benefited from Munda MakeOver and 30,000 farmers benefited from Conservation Agricultural practices. “While these statistics reflect an impressive innovation portfolio and a strong emphasis on reaching scale, more can be done to ensure that more users are able to benefit from this portfolio. The scaling fund provides one such opportunity to target scaling interventions where it is needed most,” stresses Dr Jacobs-Mata.
Funding the future, today
Also in agreement with the need for the scaling fund is Dr Iddo Dror, International Livestock Research Institute Program Leader, Impact at Scale. He asserts that the Ukama Ustawi Scaling Fund transcends being an investment to serve as a catalyst for innovation in ESA. By fostering a systematic approach to scaling impactful solutions, this fund will be a cornerstone of CGIAR’s journey towards resilient and sustainable development.
“Scaling funds provide essential financial support needed to take promising innovations to the next level. They bridge the gap between initial funding and the critical expansion phase, facilitating growth, market penetration, and sustainability”. These funds not only empower entrepreneurs and innovators to realize their visions but also contribute to economic development by creating jobs, stimulating innovation, and fostering competitiveness.
“Scaling funds are instrumental in propelling early-stage ventures towards success, enabling them to reach broader markets, serve more customers, and drive impactful change, ultimately fuelling progress in various sectors and driving economic growth. As such, the Ukama Ustawi Scaling Fund will play a pivotal role in driving innovation, creating opportunities, and bolstering economic development in today’s dynamic and ever-evolving agri-food landscape,” adds Dr Dror.
True to the very essence of Ukama Ustawi, which stems from a bilingual word derived from Shona and Swahili, the initiative foretells that together, growth can be accelerated to move the industry forward. If ever there was a time to move ESA forward, it is now. Join us in turning the dial.
Ukama Ustawi is led by the International Water Management Institute, in partnership with several other CGIAR organizations such as The Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), CIMMYT, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and WorldFish), as well as government agencies, donors, and the private sector (value-chain actors, including farmers, SMEs, financiers, and traders).